Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Making a UT Cane - photo journal

Ok, this is a first for me, so please, please post any suggestions, comments, improvements, etc and let me know if I'm explaining things clearly. Thank you all in advance!

White Clay (I used a mix of Premo, Sculpey III, and Kato for this - about 9 blocks total)
Orange Clay (I used Premo Orange and Sculpey III Sweet Potato - about 12 blocks)
Brown Clay (one block each of Premo Burnt Umber and Sculpey III Terra Cotta)
A long tissue blade or clay blade
A pasta machine

1) First off, prep the clays. Mix and condition the white first and set it aside rolled out in large sheet on the #1 setting on the pasta machine. Then mix the burnt orange clay in the following ratio: 1 block Premo Orange, 1 block Sculpey Sweet Potato, 1/8 block Premo Burnt Umber, and 1/8 block Sculpey Terra Cotta.

2) Stack sheets of burnt orange clay 4 high (#1 setting) and trim them to a height of 4". Lay them out on end in the center part of the 'U' and trim the top even with the lower edge of the bars on the top of the 'U' and shave the bottom with your clay blade to match the curve of the 'U'. Add a small 2 sheet stack (also 4" high) to fit between the bars on the 'U'.

3) Stack 3 large sheets of white clay and trim them to a height of 4". Wrap the sheets of white clay around the burnt orange center and trim the clay to the lower edge of the bars on the 'U'. See Above.

4) Make your bars on the top of the 'U' using your 3 sheet stack of white. Press a flat edge up against the burnt orange bar you made in step 2 and cut it to size with your clay blade carefully or measure the width needed and cut to size then press in place against the center orange bar. Repeat for the opposite side.

5) Score cutting marks on the top and sides of your cane from your pattern where the top and bottom edge of the 'T' bar meet the sides of your cane and where the stem of the 'T' comes out on the bottom of the cane. See Above.

6) Carefully trim away the scored area where your 'T' will go using firm pressure and a slight sawing motion. Once you have your sections divided, carefully clean up the edges with your blade making sure they are flat, even and parallel. Do not press or distort the individual pieces or your design with no longer line up.

7) Smooth the flat edges carefully to avoid air bubbles when you reassemble your cane. Set your trimmed pieces back on your pattern to make sure the pattern still lines true. Gentle mold it back into alignment if it doesn't. Now go get another cup of coffee. =) WAIT...that's a good idea....brb.

8) Ok, now back to your 3 sheet stack of white trimmed to 4" height. Place your white sheet stack to fill the gap for the upper bar of the 'T'. Trim it even with the sides and press the top firmly against it while avoiding any distortion.

9) Place your white sheet stack between the two bottom cane sections for the stem of the 'T'. Trim it flat on the top and let the stem extend down past the bottom for now. Line up the bottom part of the cane with the top section and firmly press it in place making sure that the edges are even and all the lines still line up. See Above.

10) Measure and cut your two side bars for your 'T' from your stacks of white clay and place on the sides, making sure you line up the top edge of the side bars with the top edge of the 'T'. Press firmly into place. Carefully score the stem of the 'T' at the bottom of the cane where it meets the top edge of the bottom bar, then trim away the excess clay. Make sure your bottom edge is smooth and even to avoid air bubbles.

11) Carefully fill the section between the side 'T' bars and the bottom stem with sheets of orange clay. Layer and cut the sheets to size, smoothing as you add them to avoid trapping air. If you do trap air, use a fine needle to pierce the clay and smooth the hole closed. Build up the clay one sheet at a time, sealing the edges to the bar and stem until the clay is higher than the bottom stem, then use your clay blade to trim the bottom edge flat. Measure your bottom bar from your 3 sheet stack of white clay and press it into place.

12) Finish filling the remainder of the cane with orange clay until you reach your desired size. You can use layers of sheets like I did or use rolls or blocks and press them into place. Just be careful when adding additional clay to avoid distortion of your design if the clay of the design is still softer than the clay you may be adding. For my cane, the finished dimensions were 3.75 x 3.75" with a height of 4". Now it's time to reduce (but more coffee first)!

Thank you all for reading! Again, please post any comments, corrections, or suggestions. I'll post photos of the finished pieces once I get that far. =) Have a great day!!!


  1. Amazing!!! I love making canes, but have never attempted anything this big!! Really good tutorial - clear and easy to follow instructions.
    If I ever need to make a big cane I will be following this tutorial!

  2. Most of the canes I make are 2"-4" wide and at least 4" high. Designing stuff for schools and colleges it saves me from having to make multiple canes. Thank you, Pippa!

  3. Great job on the tute!

    And you know I love the cane. :)



  4. Awesome tutorial, thank you for sharing..

    I'm your newest follower..

  5. I just discovered this tut while exploring links from Tonja Lenderman's blog My husband is a Texas-Ex and will go nuts if I make him something using this cane. Thanks so much for posting it.

  6. Hello, again. I haven't made the UT cane for my husband, but I used your instructions as guidance for duplicate stitch on a scarf I knitted for him. Seeing how you broke down the design helped.



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